On December 7 2015 The Royal Society announced that, from January 1 2016, it would require all corresponding authors submitting papers to its journals to provide an Open Researcher and Contributor identifier (ORCID iD). In an open letter published today, seven other publishers – the American Geophysical Union (AGU), eLife, EMBO, Hindawi, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), PLOS, and Science – joined them, committing to requiring ORCID iDs in their publication process during 2016.
Stuart Taylor, Publishing Director of The Royal Society, kindly agreed to answer some questions about why they – and the other publishing organizations – made this decision, and what he sees as the main opportunities and challenges.
Please tell us a bit about the Royal Society and its publishing program.
The Royal Society is the national academy of science for the UK and Commonwealth. We are an independent charity founded in 1660 by enlightenment scholars to promote science for the benefit of humanity. We started publishing in 1665 when the world’s first science journal, Philosophical Transactions, was born. Today we publish 10 journals across the entire range of science, mathematics, and engineering. We support openness and transparency in science. Authors can publish open access articles in any of our journals have and we have two fully open access journals. Our most recent journal, Royal Society Open Science, operates objective peer review and optional open peer review (which is a popular option for authors and reviewers).
Why did the Royal Society make the decision to require ORCID iDs for submitting authors from January 2016?
We have been supportive of the idea of a universal author identifier for some time and have been displaying ORCID iDs on published journal articles when our authors supply them. But the decision to make ORCID mandatory for corresponding authors arose from the discussions and debates we held in April and May 2015 as part of a four-day event to look at the Future of Scholarly Scientific Communication. ORCID iDs were mentioned frequently at many points over the four days and it became clear to us that there would be great benefits to researchers and to science in general if they were adopted by as many researchers and organizations as possible. We felt that we had a role to play, as a publisher, in driving adoption of ORCID by researchers and to use our influence in the scientific community more generally to spread the word.
What sort of response have you had following your announcement of this requirement in early December?
It’s early days yet, but there was a lot of interest in our announcement. We have had good pickup in various channels and the response so far has been positive. We have updated our author guidelines and linked them to a blog post by our Publisher, Phil Hurst, on the benefits for researchers and we will continue to monitor feedback from our community.
You and seven other publishers are now leading a broader initiative to encourage ORCID adoption in the scholarly publishing process. How did that come about?
Publishers get together often and we are constantly discussing how the system is evolving. I was speaking to a few like-minded publishers at a meeting on open science in Washington and we soon realized that we could achieve more in terms of driving ORCID adoption if we worked together. We agreed on all the key principles; only the timing and precise implementation needed to be figured out, since we all use slightly different systems in our publishing workflow.
What exactly are publishers who sign the open letter committing to?
Publishers are really only signing up to indicate their willingness to introduce the requirement that their authors have an ORCID iD by the time their article is published. The details of which authors and at what point in the publication process they do this is up to them, as is the implementation date. We are really just looking for a commitment and want to put as few obstacles in the way as possible. We are also requiring that the collection of ORCID iDs is done via the ORCID API (authenticated ORCID iDs); that publisher Crossref DOI metadata is updated to include ORCID iDs for authors, so that Crossref Auto-update can be implemented; and that author/co-author ORCID iDs are embedded into article metadata, online, and print versions of the publication. More information about the requirements can be found here.
What does this group hope to achieve through this initiative – both at the organizational and the wider scholarly community level?
ORCID has got off to a flying start, but most scientists are still not signed up. By getting as many publishers as possible on board, we hope to get across a powerful message to the community that ORCID is of great benefit. Those benefits are only fully realized at high levels of adoption and when ORCID support is built in to all the systems researchers use (whether applying for grants, publishing datasets, acting as peer reviewers, applying for appointments etc).
What do you see as the main challenges and how will you overcome them?
Publishers are understandably reluctant to introduce anything that might put off authors from submitting articles and may see the ORCID requirement as just another burden. However, we will be pointing out that the ORCID sign-up takes less than a minute and you only have to do it once! What’s more, many publishers can now update an author’s ORCID record automatically as soon as their article is published, through Crossref’s recently introduced auto-update functionality, which makes life easy for authors. They need only include their iD at manuscript submission (enter once), and grant permission to Crossref to update their record once, and then information about the published work — with their iD — can easily flow into connected systems, such as funder reporting systems and university repositories (re-use many times). We will also be underlining the privacy angle. As so much of our lives is online these days, we all expect to be able to control what information others can see about us. ORCID builds this in so the researcher can select exactly what they display and what they keep private.
Where can Scholarly Kitchen readers find more information about – and sign up for – the open letter?
The open letter is available on the ORCID website, together with the guidelines for publishers about why and how to implement them. We strongly encourage publishers to review them and to consider becoming a signatory. Individuals and non-publishing organizations can also show their support by signing the letter if they wish.
Full disclosure: I am Director of Community Engagement & Support for ORCID. The publishers involved in this initiative asked ORCID to help facilitate communications about their plans, including hosting the open letter explaining their rationale, developing best practices for using iDs in publishing, and maintaining the signatory list.